Mental Health Strategy Update

One of the key aims of our Mental Health Strategy is, “To work together to ensure that all Santa Maria College students have the skillset to manage their wellbeing, tackle challenges and thrive in school and life.” By ‘wellbeing’, we mean their emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and social wellbeing.

This statement, from our Mental Health Strategy, has driven the initiatives implemented at the College since our strategy was launched in August 2019. As you can see below, these initiatives have been focussed on students, but also include staff and parents.

Our plan has four focus areas:

  • Culture and Values
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Support

To date, we have focussed on Culture and Values and Knowledge.

18 Achievements in 2019

  1. A Wellbeing Assembly where our Mental Health Strategy was launched and an Inclusivity and Diversity Assembly focussed on valuing every person in our community.
  2. RUOK Benches Installed.  A proposal by Year 12 Student Leadership Council saw two conversation benches installed in the Mercy Walk to encourage girls to check in with their friends.
  3. Kindness Cards in all Homerooms for International Day of the Girl, asked girls to pay forward positive affirmations to others.
  4. Health Week provided activities such as jungle body, boxing and fitness and rock climbing. Just Dance and football were also included in RUOK? Day activities.
  5. We elected our inaugural Wellbeing Captain and developed a team of student representatives who will be responsible for many of the initiatives in 2020.
  6. An initiative for staff included a community and wellness afternoon where instead of having a whole staff meeting, staff selected from a range of activities including tennis, singing, group walk, yoga, meditation, games or an art workshop to build community and connection.
  7. We developed a Study Buddies mentoring program enabling our Year 10 students to support our Years 5 and 6 students.
  8. We won a National Innovative Schools award for the process of developing our strategy.
  1. Development and presentation of The Importance of Sleep video for Parent Evenings.
  2. Blogs relating to mental health on our Knowing Girls blog 
  3. Our boarding leaders completed a proposal to have a blue tree in the school grounds. They also commissioned a “junk art piece”, made from farm junk from all over the state. The artist was an Old Girl and the piece symbolises the struggles many families have with mental health issues in farming communities.
  4. A parent book club, facilitated by College Psychologist, Jane Carmignani was held to discuss the book, “Change your Thinking” with a group of parents. Many staff, including the College Leadership Team, have also read this book.
  5. Our Deans reviewed our pastoral care programs during their planning day. They focussed on the trends shown in the mental health data collected to determine focus areas and the scope and sequence of programs from Years 5 – 12. 
  6. Our House coordinators also reviewed our House programs and how they can connect more to our Mental Health Strategy.
  7. College Psychologist, Chris Davis, presented a two day Youth Mental Health First Aid course for parents and staff.
  8. Parent presentations were given at Year 5 Orientation Day on friendship and the importance of failure, and how we hope to work in partnership with parents on these issues. We also implemented a ‘Meet a Friend’ initiative to help build friendships before commencing at the College.
  9. Claire Eaton, the author of ROC, shared practical tools, tips and mindset strategies with our new boarders and their parents to help the girls bring their most resilient, optimistic and confident self to all facets of school and boarding life.
  10. Mental health panel for parents.

8 Actions ready to implement in 2020

  1. Parent Council has contributed $10 000 towards the Mental Health Strategy.
  2.  Danni Spark, Director of Staff and Students, will be overseeing the Strategy.
  3. Three staff have been selected who will work with our Mental Health Ambassadors on the implementation of initiatives.
  4. I will be presenting our Mental Health Strategy at the Asia Pacific Girls Alliance Conference in Hobart in May.
  5. Sarah Edelman, author of “Change your Thinking”,  has been secured as a speaker to workshop with our staff, parents and students in early 2020.
  6. An A-Z of Mental Health and a Mental Health Glossary have been developed with input from our Mental Health Ambassadors.  This will be launched at the beginning of 2020.  Students will have this information in their planner and parents will receive this information via our blog.  Our goal is to ensure all students, staff, and families have a common understanding of the language related to mental health.
  7. One of our toilet blocks in the Goold Building will be transformed by the artwork of our talented students who are dedicated to making this area a colourful, positive space.
  8. Our Mental Health Ambassadors will launch a positive messages campaign via frames on the back of toilet doors. These messages will continuously change and cover key areas highlighted in the research. Thank you to Parent Council for purchasing these frames for us.

It has been wonderful to see our Mental Health Strategy gain momentum and be at the forefront of our thinking and planning. I look forward to seeing what can be achieved in 2020.

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